Is Chinese malware attacking systems on Taiwan’s Guam the real target?

Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies, says that covert efforts “like the activity exposed today are part of what drives us to focus on this.” telecommunications network security and the urgency to use “reliable providers” whose equipment meets established requirements. network security standards.

Ms. Neuberger has spearheaded the federal government’s effort to enforce new cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure. Officials were surprised at the level of vulnerability in that infrastructure when one Russian ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline in 2021 disrupted the flow of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel on the East Coast. After the attack, the Biden administration used the little-known powers of the Transportation Security Administration — the agency that regulates pipelines — to force private-sector utilities to comply. under a variety of cybersecurity tasks.

Now, Ms. Neuberger is promoting what she calls “an unwavering focus on improving the cybersecurity of our pipelines, rail systems, water systems and other critical services, ” includes mandates on cybersecurity practices for these areas, and works more closely with companies with “unique visibility” into threats to such infrastructure.

Those companies include Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and many telecommunications companies that can see activity on domestic networks. Intelligence agencies, including the NSA, are prohibited by law from operating inside the United States. But the NSA is allowed to publish the warnings, as it did Wednesday, along with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Administration.

The agency’s report is part of a relatively new move by the US government to release such data quickly in hopes of igniting practices like those of the Chinese government. In previous years, the United States generally withheld such information — sometimes categorizing it — and only shared it with select companies or organizations. But that almost always ensures that hackers can stay far ahead of the government.

In this case, the focus on Guam has particularly drawn the attention of officials who are assessing China’s ability — and its readiness — to attack or strangle Taiwan. Mr. Xi has ordered the People’s Liberation Army to potentially occupy the island by 2027. But the director of the CIA, William J. Burns, noted before Congress that order “doesn’t mean that he has decided to take the island.” intends to launch an invasion.”

Of the dozens of U.S. desk exercises conducted in recent years to map out what such an attack might look like, one of China’s first anticipated moves would be cut off US communications and slow down US response. So the exercises envision attacks on satellites and ground communications, especially around US facilities where military assets will be mobilized.

Nowhere is greater than Guam, where Andersen Air Force Base will be the starting point for many of the Air Force’s missions to help defend the island, and a very important Naval port for American submarines.


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